Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goodbye Celluar South! Hello Sprint!

About six days ago, I dropped Cellular South. They were my cell phone service provider of over 10 years, but with their inability to provide reliable service where I worked and lived, I decided to switch to a different service provider and after much consideration, I decided to go with Sprint.

My time with Cellular South was not all bad. Most of the time, I was generally happy with their service. Sure, their phone selection had never been on the cutting edge but they did offer a decent phone selection and a pretty solid voice and data service – until now.

In the last couple years, I started to notice that my cell phone’s signal strength was decreasing to the point where one or two bars was becoming the norm. At first I thought it was my phone getting old, but when I upgraded to a new phone and still had low signal strength, I realized that their service was not reaching me as well as it used to. I would call, email and fill out web forms to report my issues, but nothing really improved. More often than not, the tech would just have me pop out my phone’s battery and reboot which really didn’t do anything to fix or improve anything.

As far as Cellular South’s 3G data network, it was very hit-or-miss. If you lived or worked in the Downtown Pensacola area or the Gulf Breeze/Pensacola Beach area, then you could sometimes get 3G service. In the Northeast Pensacola area where I lived and worked, I could only get 1x speed on a good day. Despite having 3G service as part of my plan, I was never really able to have 3G speed.

Customer service with Cellular South was once stellar. They treated me as a person and addressed all of my concerns and issues. Then the company grew and I became just another account number. This disconnect was even more exacerbated when Cellular South closed out all of their retail stores in Northwest Florida which left customers like me driving an hour into Mobile, Alabama just to talk to a real person. This act was never fully explained to their customers and it left me feeling somewhat abandoned and not quite wanted. If it was not for their low pone plan prices, I would have probably switched back then.

Cellular South would emphasize to their customers in Northwest Florida that they should just use their self-service web site or call their phone line to try save time. I’m sure this process works for a lot of people, but I’m old fashioned and, whenever possible, I want to talk to a real person whenever I have question about my bill or service. In contrast, all the other cellphone companies have multiple vendors, kiosks, and retail buildings in Pensacola.

The phone plans that Cellular South offered were aggressively competitive. At the time of this post, Cellular South still had the cheapest unlimited nationwide plan that included unlimited voice, data, txt, and pix service. For people like me who basically make a living by being on the phone providing tech support, it was an awesome deal. Well, it was awesome when it worked.

After two years of having phone calls dropping and putting up with the inability to access a 3G data network, I decided enough was enough. What drove me over the edge was when I lost a client because my phone would keep dropping her calls and she said that she didn’t want to put up with anymore. It was at this point, that I started to see that saving money with Cellular South is just ending up costing me money as I spent time trying to reconnect dropped calls or at the worse, lose clients. Plus, not having 3G made it almost impossible to check emails and view web links from clients.

In the interest of finding a more reliable service provider that could reach where I lived and worked, I began to do research and shop around. In my search, I discovered that AT&T and now Verizon Wireless did not have unlimited data plans for new customers. T-Mobile had an unlimited plan but was capped/throttled down after 2GB of bandwidth. Only Sprint had a truly unlimited plan that was similar to that of Cellular South’s. The only difference is the price which, of course, cost more. At this point, I didn’t mind spending a little extra to have better coverage than what I was getting with Cellular South. If fact, I expected that I would have to.

Overall, I’ve been happy with my decision to switch to Sprint. I haven’t had a dropped call and I normally have 4 to 5 (out of 5) bars of signal wherever I am. I know Sprint isn’t a perfect company but they’re doing what Cellular South and the other service providers couldn’t do - provide me cellular service wherever I am at a truly unlimited plan.

So, goodbye Cellular South. Hello, Sprint!

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